The Kwita Izina is Rwanda’s annual event where the newly born mountain gorillas are given names for purposes of conservation. This event has become Rwanda’s cultural and traditional practice for each year at Kinigi at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters. Volcanoes National Park is credited as one of the only four (4) protected areas in the world where the rare mountain gorillas are protected in their natural habitat. The park offers refuge to over 62% of all the mountain gorillas that thrive within the Great Virunga Massifs making it one of the most exceptional destinations for mountain gorilla trekking safaris in Africa. The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony is an event which is mainly aimed at monitoring every individual gorilla and their families while they are in their natural environment. Like humans, the names given to the baby mountain gorilla is an identity. The event was launched as one way of creating awareness to the local, regional and international world about the value of conserving these critically endangered species and their habitat in Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga Massifs, Northwest of Rwanda.
The Kwita Izina event was launched in 2005. In the last 30 years, the park rangers and researchers gave the newly born gorillas names as away of monitoring them in their group. Since its introduction in 2005 nearly 238 baby gorillas have been given their identities in the 12 ceremonies. For 2017, the Kwita Izina event was conducted on 1st September at Kinigi Volcanoes National Park which commenced with a Gala dinner on 26th and a conservation and tourism showcase on 27th to 28th scientific safari and many more events. This year, the Gala dinner was intended to gather key stakeholders to celebrate the common cause, to support Rwanda’s conservation success and raise funds for the main conservation projects. This event has existed for years and for this year, it marked the 13th annual ceremony and around 19 baby gorillas were given names at Kinigi. The Kwita Izina event seems to be a vibrant conservation measure. In 1985, there were fewer than 300 mountain gorillas that thrived in the natural environment compared to the 900 that are estimated to be living today in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The event was celebrated under the theme “Conservation and sustainable tourism, a foundation for future generation.” Volcanoes National Park lies in Musanze village which is also famous as Ruhengeri. The park is reachable by public transport when you are at Gisenyi or Kigali International Airport or within the city. It is 2-3 hours drive from the city centre to the park. The Rwanda community is credited for their devoted conservation efforts that have culminated to a substantial increase in the number of these endangered species since 2003 and the Kwita Izina being the key role player for this conservation success. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda costs $1500 per person and 10 percent of the revenue is given back to the community as part of the revenue sharing scheme which directly benefits the adjacent communities. Projects such as schools, water and health centers have been established and have been improved using this money.
In conclusion, the Kwita Izina is Rwanda’s cultural and traditional gorilla naming event that has helped create awareness to the world about the importance of conservation the mountain gorillas and their habitat in Volcanoes National Park. This gives the rest of gorilla destinations a big task to also borrow a leaf from Rwanda so as to save the lives of these endangered apes and their habitat which in a long run will improve the quality of tourism products that are offered to the visitors.